Tartan Week, IndyRef2 and Reunification?


It’s NY Tartan Week

This last week Nicola Sturgeon wrote her letter to Teresa May, informing her that Scotland intends to have it’s say in the future of that country, and not follow along with the U.K.’s Brexit wave. Sturgeon has also planned a visit to America for industry meet ups and NY Tartan Week. She doesn’t plan to visit the White House, as she was part of the movement to ban Trump from the U.K. during the Trump 2015 Presidential Campaign. I think she has the wherewithal to understand that truly the power on this great country can be in it’s states and regions, and each state here is more a country with it’s own economy. That means industrial allies. Who’s to say, but I think it’s a bold move. After all, California is one of the largest countries within a country, and a meeting is set up with Jerry Brown. She’ll be here to push Scotland’s interests in industry, and no doubt try to figure out what happened to previous industry promises that came to nought for Scotland from our shores.

Hey, if you get the chance to travel to New York in April ever, try to go during Tartan Week. Great parade and great fun.

Teresa May this week invoked Article 50 and has begun the process to “Hard Brexit” from the EU. The day before, Sturgeon announced formally her intentions to have Scotland take a vote again on independence. Things will be spicey again this political Brexit/Inderef2 spring. I am actually excited about seeing some democracy in another country. Hopefully a protest or two.

What does this mean for traveling? As I previously wrote, there will be more protests and marches. Something live to watch, not just visiting historical sites. It’s history in the making. Remember our 99% marches and Occupation movement in the states a few years back? Have you heard much of that lately? Not really. It’s now morphed into a more, “We are not happy with the loss of our civil liberties” movement that has gone global. While many of us try to contribute to various online social giving programs to help right the wrongs of the world, to help third world nations discover democracy, we have had to back up a bit and go back to defend the countries we come from that already have it. It’s kind of like when we have forgotten and taken for granted that we have innoculations against diseases. We take for granted that sickness will not touch us, the pox is a thing of the past. It is back, morphed into it’s next mutant version and back to create disease. Democracy and civil liberties are taking a bashing again. New parties are emerging. There are more opinions than ever, and many are taking our civilization backwards seventy years. Dystopia is becoming the norm, the now, on the edge. I think traveling and getting out into the world now is a must. We must see that we are not the only ones dealing with these issues in the world and we certainly will not be the last, unless we do not stand up and truly lose this human race. I foresee that more families will be taking a more political, educational vacation in places like the U.K. to show children how the world is shaping. I certainly hope so.

So why does a left coaster in the US care about Scotland right now? Family ties of old and a country I have visited. I talked with real people and listened to their lives and watched my very first Scottish protest. I have read articles on both sides of the IndeRef2 issue and can see the concerns and how it might change a nation. I also find the hope that maybe these changes will make Scotland even more beautiful and strong, it certainly is already.

Reunification or and Independent Northern Ireland?

To add to the mix, there have been movements in Ireland for some years to address the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland and coexistence on an island. The UK still has it’s small toe hold on the island from the days of the great empire. The people of Northern Ireland consider themselves part of the UK. However, there are still many who still want to have Ireland for the Irish. And now there is a movement to break away all together, become independent and join the EU. Could Scotland and Northern Ireland become rebels together and achieve great things? They are already great, they just need to redefine themselves and continue their growth.

Northern Ireland is having voting this week. What’s on the mind of voters is the questions of the small country’s place in a Post-Brexit world. While the country has stabilised over the last 30 years and become an amazing, strong country, questions are being brought up of whether to reunite the North with the Republic? Or, some believe the north should become it’s own. The EU is watching very closely. Why is this so important to the people? Many reasons, the old religious ones come to mind, but mostly it’s about economy and exports. As we saw money drop in value with the Pound Sterling last summer and the news of the soft Brexit, money was being lost in the plummeting of the value. To pull from and existing alliance will cost millions in revenue and to stay may also cost money on other levels. What does all this mean to travelers over the next two years? In some instances you will be able to play the money if you have a stronger dollar for example. Sadly the current economy is making the dollar hurt badly. You may see to cost of some hotels and travel go up or down. The railways for example may see a rise in pricing, and transportation on the whole may go up as petrol access may go up in cost. And it’s not just Ireland and Scotland, some in Wales are calling for an independence, too. Prepare for more new traveling rules not just from the White House.



Welsh and Northern Ireland Independence?

Travel in the region will possibly be difficult as hard borders in the next two years may become a reality. There is talk that RyanAir may not serve the UK after Brexit and hop straight to Europe. This means less choice of hopping between the islands and can mean more expensive travel if the competition in not there. While negotiations are still going on and votes will not happen until 2018-19 timeframes, much can change in a few months. Keep abreast of this interesting time for many interconnected nations may have changing economies and travel related fees, as well as many opinions as to what is happening. However, while you are traveling, respect the people’s views that you meet. If you must discuss politics, always allow for the fact that it is not your country. Be careful of the, “We do it this way in America” attitude, the US is changing as well and many European nations are not happy with how they are being treated by the US. Open an educational dialog. Listen.

More Reading

Nicola Sturgeon NYC Tartan Week

Nicola Sturgeon Letter



Back to Scotland I Go

glasgow-cathedral-and-infirmaryIt wasn’t but hours after I landed in PDX, that I said to a friend, “I have to go back. Scotland is not finished with me, and I am no done with it!”. I spent over two glorious weeks adventuring in Glasgow, Inverness, Stirling, and Edinburgh and some places in between. However Scotland may be a smallish country, but it is compact and has depth. There is so much I did not see. So I made a vow to go back.

This year I can still follow my favorite show’s film locations, Outlander, along with some upcoming films like The Avengers filming in the Glasgow area and beyond. While I don’t really go in for tours, I would rather explore on my own, this year I may take some day trips from Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Glasgow as a Hub

Glasgow is an amazing city. I visited it twice last year and enjoyed every moment of it. There is so much life in it, there i never a dull moment unless you want there to be one. I decided on the 2017 trip to make this a hub since the airport is one of the better landing places I have been in dealing with immigration and flow. I planned for 3 days stay at the beginning of the trip before proceeding to Ireland. Last year I found that jet lag took about 2 days to right and wanted to go to a city I had already had some experience with. That way I could just chill a bit and visit some places I had seen but liked.

One thing I suggest  you do for any city that is destination, is try to read the local papers online to see what’s on as they say, or what you should be aware of. Lots of tourists besides yourself, that’s a given. And festivals around the time of your stay. This means some things you may want to see or do are right in the path. But festivals are great, you should try to attend if you can. Example: New Festival in Glasgow Green July 7-9 I will be missing this one since I am visiting later in the month. Check out local events online and see if you can bag a few things to enhance your stay. If you haven’t figured it out yet, Glasgow’s big on music like PDX is. If you know your dates for stay, check ticketed venues to see if any of your fave bands are doing a tour.

Sports in Glasgow

Okay, here in the western US, we love our American Football teams. In Europe, they really love their teams and are extremely fierce when it comes to some of the football matches. And don’t forget the rugby. We go nuts in our stands and more Scots are following some of our teams like the Seattle Seahawks. But in Glasgow, things are aligned not just by a favored team. In Europe people can align themselves by class and neighborhood, and yes religion. This should be a bit of a warning. And be mindful of pub signs. If you see a pub with a colors declaration, ask. If you wear a jersey or shirt that is too close to an opposing team, you may be in for some trouble. This just takes a little being aware, and most establishments ask you to not wear jerseys or club shirts to be on the safe side. The two teams in Glasgow are the Celtic F.C. and Rangers F.C.. In America, many view football as religion. Think the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, only more intense. In Glasgow, the club is aligned with religion. The Celtic club is Catholic and the Rangers are Protestant. There is a fierce rivalry.

Last year when I visited and 2 days in, there was an Orange Walk of Procession for support of the Celtic Club. I had my first clues there would be a todo when many bus routes and walkways had postings of diversions. I walked the Clyde that morning, still jet lagged and bleary, and made a mental check. I was staying off George Square Plaza and went into the hotel and asked what was going on. I was met with many groans and told that an Orange Parade was happening. I immediately went, oh. My grand da was Irish and had had family come over from Ireland, some after the ’16. It’s a Catholic /Protestant thing, but especially if you are Irish, the ’16 was something that made many leave Ireland just like they had during famine. Living in the US, especially from the west coast, we tend to not think of heavy rivalries in this sense. Football is a sport rivalry. On the east coast it’s a bit different, we have many people still migrating from heavily Catholic or Protestant countries and communities are more church aligned.

After consideration, I made plans to head to the west end while the parade was going on. Wasn’t sure if there would trouble. Reading online papers had shown that effigies were often being hung at games and I didn’t want to chance it. However, there was a peaceful parade, no trouble and people had their say. I found that most of the protests and events centered on the Brexit vote that had just happened prior to my arrival, were peaceful as well. Scotland still isn’t too happy about this topic and there may be another referendum in the offing in 2018. Traveling during political times is great in a place like Glasgow, you can talk to locals on buses and in queues at the market about anything. They will commiserate on politics with you as well.

Glasgow has amazing green places to visit and the hills roll with it. Scottish summer was still a bit of rain, but humid for the most part, and I even had to wear sunscreen on a few days. I will be more prepared this time.